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December 15, 2019
Notta ‘s Annuals
“Sometimes I really hate this time of the year!” Notta announced herself in the doorway of my office.
I was in a less than happy mood myself. We were days away from the official winter break, but, with our classroom empty and the time for class gone thirty minutes, our students had apparently decided to start early and take this Monday off. I hated to begrudge them a day to prepare for the major holidays of the year, but half were poised to take the high school equivalency test as soon as the venues had openings. Not to mention that one day off tended to turn into two, three, even an entire week for some of the cherubs. Still, I tried some humor for Notta’s sake as well as my own.
“But I thought this was the most wonderful time of the year.”
Notta gave me that mother’s look that is halfway between “Don’t make me come over there and smack you” and “I’m working with an idiot here.” I cringed a little.
“It’s got nothing to do with Christmas,” she said. “It’s all the daggone doctor appointments I have to get through to keep our insurance. They notify you in September that you have until the end of the year, and the doctors can’t get you in until the end of year.” She tossed her coat on the long table with a disgusted sigh.
“You mixing it up with Dr. Taffypull again?”
She blew what used to be called a raspberry with her glossy pink lips. “Yesterday.” She sat in her regular chair, which welcomed her with its regular groan. “I did that weigh-in song and dance with the nurse – I’ve lost 12 pounds this year, by the way.”
“Mazel tov,” I said.
“Then the nurse takes my blood pressure. Not bad, but could be lower. She says for me to loosen things and sit on the ‘table.’ So I did. And I sat for 30 minutes sweating through my skirt on the butcher paper, with my bra hanging down to my waist and my waistband snagging on the hooks. He comes in with those dead fish eyes, and, guess what? He takes my blood pressure again!”
“It was up! He says, ‘Your blood pressure’s high.’ The man doesn’t miss a trick, does he?”
“So I said, ‘Oh? And how’s yours?’ Stopped him cold. He flipped through my chart, then sat down at the cabinet and started tapping at his computer. ‘You’re still not at a healthy weight,’ he says finally.
“’Hey, I lost 12 pounds this year!’ I told him. The man flipped back through the chart and double-checked his computer, like he had to check my story.
“He made some sort of surprised noise. Then he said, ‘Well, keep going! You need to cut back on the sweets and eat vegetables.’”
“’And do you eat yours?’
The man glared at me like he wanted to slice something off me. Probably my tongue. ‘Everyday,’ he said so nastily that the spit got on his mustache. ‘I’m a vegetarian.’
“’Doesn’t do much for your manners, does it?’
“I never saw a man jump up and try to tower over me so fast in my life. ‘I beg your pardon,’ is what he said, but in that tone I heard as a kid. As in, ‘You better beg my pardon and quick before I knock you into next week.’”
“He lost his temper with you?”
“I think his face went from vanilla taffy to strawberry pretty fast, but I wasn’t having fun with this appointment, either, and I didn’t pick on him. ‘Look,’ I said, ‘you’re obviously having a rough day. You seem to have left your sense of humor in your other lab coat. Do you get enough alone time?’
“’So now you have a psychology degree?’ he asked.
“’No, I teach. But I can tell you don’t get alone time much. You’d be a lot friendlier if you did.’
“’I don’t have time for this!’ was his answer, so I guessed no, he doesn’t.
“’So maybe you should take some,’ I said. ‘Like right now. You go out and come back when you can be civil.’”
I waved my hands, not believing my ears. “You are telling me you gave your doctor a ‘time-out’?”
Notta stopped for a moment. Then she laughed. “Yes, I guess I did. He stomped out. The nurse came back in a few minutes with a handful of papers. I swear she was trying hard not to grin at me. ‘The doctor says you need to get some tests run. Blood, bone density, all those things.’
‘’‘And some for spite,’ I said. ‘By the way, how do you test for spite? Might want to run one on him.’”
“I don’t think they can do that with the insurance companies cracking down,” I said.
Notta shrugged. “Anyway, I got bled – now they had a sense of humor, but I guess doing bloodwork all day, you would have to have one. Now all I have to do is the daggone mammogram.” She shuddered. “I’m only glad I didn’t have to get them while I was nursing my kids. I coulda hit a target at ten feet in those days.”
“It’s not my favorite appointment, either,” I admitted.
“Could be worse, coming only once a year,” Notta said. “At the very least, I can sympathize with cows.”
“Almost enough to make you become a vegetarian,” I teased.
Notta half-smiled, then shook her finger at me. “Don’t make me come over there.”